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Even before your baby's first tooth comes in, you should set the stage for healthy habits. Once or twice a day, wipe her gums with a piece of gauze, which will get her used to the routine of cleaning inside the mouth and help prevent bacteria from building up in her gums. As soon as a few baby teeth erupt, you can switch to a soft toothbrush. Toothpaste isn't necessary at this stage, but if you want to use it, choose one without fluoride (until your child is 4), and squeeze out just a pea-size amount. --Kate Kelly
Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2007. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.